Former Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Ed King died at the age of 68 at his home in Nashville on Wednesday, according to a report from the Tennessean.
A member of Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1972 to 1975 and 1987 to 1996, King originally joined as a bassist, but moved to guitar, as he teamed up with original guitarists Gary Rossington and Allen Collins to give the band its signature three-guitar sound, Ultimate Classic Rock reports. King also wrote or co-wrote some of the band’s earliest recordings, including the Billboard Top 10 hit “Sweet Home Alabama,” a song whose impact has spanned multiple generations since its 1974 release. Upon returning to Skynyrd in 1987, King reportedly “assumed musical control” of the band as he took charge of their setlists, rehearsal schedules, and other band-related matters until he left the group for the second time, the publication added.
Unlike most of his Lynyrd Skynyrd bandmates, who were born and raised in the Jacksonville, Florida area, King was born in Glendale, California on September 14, 1949, and had a stint of his own in another well-known classic rock band. Billboard wrote that King was previously a co-founding member of psychedelic rockers Strawberry Alarm Clock, and also co-wrote and played guitar on the band’s biggest hit, the 1967 chart-topper “Incense and Peppermints.”
As of this writing, Ed King’s cause of death has yet to be revealed, but he had been battling health problems since 1996 when he was forced to leave Lynyrd Skynyrd after suffering complications from congestive heart failure. He then received a heart transplant in 2011, five years after he and his bandmates were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
According to Billboard, King appeared to be struggling with his health in the months before his passing, though in a Facebook post dated July 12, his condition appeared to be improving as he discussed the “final edit” of the first section of a book he was writing.
“I had a most excellent day and they’ll keep coming. I’m back to eating, everything is functioning. Getting stronger and feel incredible. I’m just wobbly,” King wrote.
Ed King’s passing makes him the latest of several Lynyrd Skynyrd members who died since the band’s formation in 1966. Original lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backup singer Cassie Gaines were killed in an October 1977 plane crash that led to the group disbanding until their 1987 reunion. More than a decade after that tragedy, Allen Collins died in 1990, almost four years after he was paralyzed in a car accident. As further noted by TribLive, the band was rocked by more losses in the 21st century, as bassists Leon Wilkeson and Ean Evans died in 2001 and 2009 respectively, and keyboardist Billy Powell passed away in 2009.